Monday, September 26, 2011

Harvest about complete

It's been a jam packed few weeks around the farm. It seems like there is never enough hours or energy in the days, but somehow I'm managing to get quite a bit done. First, the greenhouse is stripped. What a chore! I always forget that it's nearly as much work to empty it, as it is to fill and plant all those pots! But I had a bounty of peppers, which we enjoyed very much on the grill. The melons were gobbled up by all, and I have vowed to start them earlier next spring. I had enough cucumbers hidden in the foliage to make one small batch of pickles, after all the fresh eating we enjoyed-a nice surprise. The sweet corn had a few slightly unripe ears but was heavenly grilled in the husk. Several batches of zucchini relish were processed and I have three glass gallon jars of sauerkrout going in a cool dark spot in the garage.

Yesterday, the meat birds were processed at last. They came in at between 5 to nearly 8 pounds, very large birds! They are brining right now and will surely be a tasty meal over the winter. I learned a couple little tricks about how to properly bleed them out, and what some of the interior parts are. Previously, I have only done the "dirty work" so this was a great learning experience. My sis's good friend, Maria, was happy to take organs, heads, neck and feet. In her culture, nothing is wasted and that works for me.

Also this month, the abundant celery was processed-this time, into jars for winter use. My wonderful sister in law has been very enthusiastic about helping, and in return, I teach her about proper preparation and processing. It's a win win for both of us, I like to think. And it's been really nice to have company as the canners are monitored too. When it came time to butcher the moose the family had been blessed with, we all dashed over and worked to "get 'er done". Oh my, it was a lot! A 53 inch bull and a spike fork. I have the neck sections and am in the process of making moose stew to can in the next day or so. This year, I can add celery, potatoes, carrots and onions from my own garden-I'm very proud of that.

We were able to secure a large load of logs for firewood, so that worry has been laid to rest. With that, and what is already split and stacked under the wood shed, we're in fairly good shape for firewood. I have been enjoying the wood stove for almost three weeks now, and loving it. As the leaves continue to fall, we are on the last bit of "clean up before winter" outside stuff, with some work remaining at the barn. I also managed to find two more Orpington pullets, and they have settled in very well. This brings my total back up to eight-which is what I had last winter. My old Yokohama rooster finally passed away a couple weeks back, but his replacement (A buff Orpington) is maturing and has already been successfully fertilizing eggs. Just this weekend I found my first ever "bullseye" plain as day, on the yolk. This means I could have chicks this coming spring, yippee!

Also in the bird department, my four turkey chicks are a hoot! So aware, so curious, and friendly too. They are gaining some color now, and I think I have two toms and two hens. They will not reach the size of the broad breasted whites I have in with the layers, but that works for me-those two are getting pretty danged big! So big, in fact, that I was worried about finding a pot big enough to scald them in, haha

So that's what is happening around the home place. I have the stew to process, and spuds, and that will be it for canning this year.....whew!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September already!

It's been a busy and productive couple of weeks here at the homestead. I say that with a sardonic tone, because we surely are not a homestead in the "pioneer" sense of the word, but then we sure aren't living on a city lot in Anchortown, either.

The garden was bountiful, considering the weather challenges this summer. A few things did not fare well and these are due to my own oversights-sweet corn and pumpkin. I have a great many green beans that await picking, plus many large onions (onions! Never been able to grow them before, yippee!) whose tops will end up dried, and a generous quantity of broccoli and cauliflower are already safely tucked into the freezer. A couple weeks ago I processed a fairly amount of berries from the freezer, in a lame attempt to make space. As it is, I still have plenty on the bushes that need to be harvested, not to mention jam and syrup jars tucked away. We are blessed with these berries so I won't complain about number, since some people were not so lucky this year. Several batches of zucchini relish are done, and I have the celery processed too-dried leaf for cooking, plus nearly a dozen pint jars in the pantry. Next up is finding the proper vessel to start a batch of sauerkraut....then, I have the beans, peas, brussel sprouts, spuds, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and my little melons to harvest. Yes, melons! They are not much large than fist sized but I have been trying to grow these for years-first year of success and I can't wait to try them!

Up at the barn, the meat birds are way beyond processing size. Lost one of them yesterday for unknown reasons, which does happen occasionally. So that leaves ten very hefty birds to deal with in the next week or so. No sure what they will dress out at, but I am thinking in the 6 to 7 pound range. In the pen with them, are my four baby turkey chicks. Gosh those buggers are cute! So attentive and responsive to my voice, so unlike chickens. They are starting to get their color now, so look rather speckled. I can't tell yet how many hens, or toms, that will have to wait until they are older. These are a heritage type that breed true, called Sweetgrass. A very pretty bird that are cold hardy, and do not mature as large as the broad breasted whites that are more common for holiday meals. I have two of those also-a hen and a tom as it turns out. He has matured enough to begin courting, and she is old enough to rebuff his advances. Makes for some fairly comical moments ;) Thanksgiving and Christmas are their names, naturally...and they are going to be very sizeable birds in another month or two. Naturally, it did not dawn on me that I do not own a pot large enough to scald them in until yesterday, haha! Not sure what I am going to do about that-dry pluck? Haul them some place else? The new rooster I got a few months back seems to have settled in, but one of the hens does not care for him, so he is pretty much a bachelor outcast at the moment. I have not heard any crowing from him either. Speaking of which, the older Yokohama roo has lost his voice, and is not doing well. The pair of them need to go to another pet home, or someone's stew pot. Very small birds, but likeable enough.

So we are rolling on into winter mode......animals good overall, halfway done with the garden, and quite a bit of firewood already stacked away for the colder months. I have some feed and hay to lay in over the next month or so, and then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!